Blood and Jazz
Druid, Jazz Musician, All-Around Merry Fellow
Darror spent most of his childhood among the Kwellong nomads of the Wessorn Peninsula. The Kwellongs had come to prominence as slavers during the reign of the Yashoru Empire, whose capital city of Jacuma had long been the most important slave trade center in all of Komwë. Unfortunately, the slavers of Veil’s Thinning eventually grew weary of paying their cut to Yashoru middlemen (not to mention weary of Yashoru slavers looking down their noses at the nations of Tynwë for their slavery laws, which were far crueler even than Komwë’s) and overthrew the government in a treacherous coup under pretext of negotiations in 3929, turning former Yashoru lands into protectorates under Aasimic law. The Kwellongs tried trading slaves to Veil’s Thinning instead, but demand slowly decreased as Veil’s Thinning put more and more of its own agents to the task, taking over the business until the Kwellongs found themselves returning to a primarily hunter/gatherer lifestyle that was only occasionally supplemented with the hunting and trading of slaves. By the time of Darror’s birth in 3958, the tribe’s origin as slavers was all but a distant memory.
Nonetheless Darror grew up as no stranger to cruelty. In accordance with gnoll tradition the Kwellongs practiced a form of oppressive matriarchy far less subtle and nuanced than the matriarchy of the dark elves; gnoll females are naturally larger and stronger than the already-large and already-strong males (due to masculinization induced by massive quantities of androgens at birth and puberty) and gnoll females enforce a strength and size hierarchy based on feats of violent dominance. The highest ranking male is below the lowest ranking female, and the lowest ranking males are frequently killed or bullied into self-imposed exile (the latter of which is essentially just a very slow death sentence unless the exiled can find a new tribe). Darror was among the lowest-ranking of the Kwellong males and would likely have met with one of these fates, were it not for the protection of his elder sister Mekarrë. She fought off bullies as often as she was able, and she privately vowed to Darror that one day she would destroy his enemies entirely.
Mekarrë and Darror achieved brief tribal reverence in 3967 when they cooperatively designed, built, and employed a clever trap to kill a passing roc and feed the whole host for days during a famine; for this feat, Mekarrë was granted the honorary superlative “Rocbane”, a name that she vowed to Darror that he would one day be permitted to share. The joy was short-lived, however, as Darror’s mother Mugwari became drunk on Aasimar wine during the last night of the feast and proceeded to loudly extol her daughter’s cleverness and strength at the expense of their leader, Katlago, upon whom Mugwari implicitly placed the blame for the famine. Despite Mekarrë’s protests, Mugwari continued with this ill-advised tirade, even going so far as to suggest that Mekarrë would make a better leader of the tribe than Katlago.
Katlago responded to this disrespect by breaking both of Mugwari’s legs, revoking the status of her and all her descendants as members of the tribe, and selling them all cheaply to the slavers of Aasimique.
Darror and Mekarrë spent a year together as slaves in Jacuma; their mother and siblings were separated from them immediately, and even now Darror does not know what has become of any of them. Mekarrë worked tirelessly to negotiate with corrupt guards and rebellious fellow slaves until she was able to start a riot, but in the chaos Darror was recaptured and put aboard a ship full of other recaptured slaves, bound for Tynwë. Mekarrë called after him, vowing to find him and free him again, but he has not seen her since that day and does not know what has become of her either.
Darror spent another fourteen years in slavery to a variety of masters in Veil’s Thinning, Cassily, and Färchaia of progressively poorer character, from neglectful drunkards who would let slaves die of thirst or illness before noticing that anything was wrong, to actively sadistic monsters who seemingly kept slaves for no reason at all other than to cause them pain. While enslaved in Färchaia he befriended local fey and learned a great deal of druid magic in secret, experimenting and merging the laissez-faire fey style of passive nature manipulation with the more aggressive gnoll shamanism that he had observed as a child in Komwë, but never quite learning spells advanced enough to justify to himself the risk of attempting escape.
In 3982, Darror’s master at the time—a minor high elf lord by the name of Geleon Delfaur—strongly considered selling Darror to slavers in Aglondale who would send him on to a new master in Lusitola or Ki-Tan, which Darror knew to be widely regarded as the two worst places a slave could possibly go; but a rugged-faced human by the name of David Caravag persuaded Delfaur to make a different decision. Darror has not spoken to anyone of exactly what Caravag said or did that day, but it is known that Caravag’s exit from the premises was followed immediately by a slave revolt in which the Delfaur mansion was collapsed by deliberate flooding and foundational sabotage, with Delfaur himself crushed to death in the rubble. And more to the point, it is known that since that day, Darror has been one of Caravag’s most unquestioningly loyal companions.
Darror occasionally finds himself wondering if Mekarrë would have approved of his devotion to Caravag’s cause, a devotion which at times can only be described as… well, slavish.
But whatever hypotheticals that Darror may wonder, he remains acutely aware of the fact that Caravag actually fulfilled all the vows that Mekarrë only ever spoke.